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What is a production controller?
Production controlling – or manufacturing controlling – mainly takes care of the cost side of production, ie the manufacturing costs in general, the analysis of the individual production steps and stages and the search for measures to increase efficiency and reduce production costs.
The tasks of production controllers differ significantly from those of production managers (also called manufacturing managers), who are responsible for the technical part of the production processes. In practice, the production controllers are of course dependent on the input of the production managers – but logically they should and must understand a lot of the technical side of the production processes themselves.
The most important things in 5 seconds
- Education: University degree (business administration, business informatics or industrial engineering) with a focus on controlling and/or production or comparable qualification / several years of professional experience in the field of production and cost accounting
- Starting salary: €46,000
- Top salary: €85,000
- Opportunities for advancement: Depending on suitability, experience and company size, assumption of (management) tasks in investment projects, in group and financial controlling.
The challenges are in the details
Production processes are extremely complex, and each individual stage may hide cost-driving or savings potentials that production controllers must track down. Corona made it clear what potential this can involve: The production of the corona vaccines comprises a total of up to 50,000 individual components and steps that have to be recorded by production controllers in terms of costs, in this extreme example probably even during ongoing production – that adds up even fractions of fractions of cents in a single step to huge sums. In principle, however, this applies to every form of production: Even in the food and beverage industry, production planning must be coordinated with – possibly seasonal – demand, Maintenance intervals are to be included in the calculation and batch sizes are to be optimized; The same applies to consumer electronics, the automotive industry and many other products that are manufactured in large quantities or ‘continuously’, such as e.g. As printing papers are produced.
Identify problems and offer solutions
The primary task of the production controller is to keep every single production step under control in terms of costs – of course, even if the production process remains unchanged, but the procurement costs of the raw materials change because there is too much or too little rain somewhere, because a ship in the Suez Canal and the containers don’t arrive, or because a country decides to impose import or export taxes on a raw material such as steel, temporarily or permanently, in order to discipline another country.
The first thing to do is to analyze the procurement and manufacturing costs for each production step and include them in the overall calculation for each production unit. There may also be an ideal calculation with so-called ‘milestones’ as part of the corporate strategy, which specify savings targets or upper cost limits per unit.
The calculations of the production controller are one, if not the essential component of the calculation. With this and including further surcharges for z. B. Overheads/administration, advertising, marketing and sales, a company can calculate the target sales price and/or set lower and upper limits.
Estimation and control result in planning security and qualitative continuity
Production controllers are involved in every production step from the start and monitor compliance with costs through targets and key figures, which are included in their reports to management. The aim is to ensure a consistently high quality of the end product while reducing costs in order to increase the margin or increase the scope for sales pitches. If the analyzes of the production controllers point to a long-term change in individual factors or in the entire cost structure of a production, a solution must be sought.
Good production controllers are good team players
If production controllers recognize potential savings or cost increases, they must calculate them and present them to management. Their information is not just limited to the financial implications – together with purchasing and the technicians (e.g. the production managers) they will also help to solve the problem. Example: If the screws become more expensive in the course of production, you look together for obvious solutions (pressure on the supplier, cheaper screws from another supplier), but also for alternative solutions (e.g. replacing the screws with rivets or welding). Production controllers can submit a fact-based statement on many solution variants, contribute to the risk assessment and provide valuable input,
Experience creates planning security – and composure
The primary objective of the production controller is therefore to know all cost factors and to keep their development under control. To do this, they need not only a high level of their own technical understanding, but also the help of those who are involved in the production process. Especially in the environment z. B. highly specialized technicians – who may think (too) perfectionistically and are not always interested in savings potential – it requires a high degree of empathy from production controllers to get information and to let their thoughts flow. Here, too, the best solutions can be found in dialogue and in team discussions.
Production controllers can recognize when a situation threatens to get out of control in terms of costs (and initiate countermeasures); but they can also assess whether the problem is short-term, temporary (and encourage calm and prevent panic-mongering). Above all, they must always see themselves as part of a solution and motivate others to see it that way too.
What does a production controller do?
Production controllers are responsible for the transparency of the costs of the production process in detail, as a whole and over time.
- You are responsible for monitoring the manufacturing processes and checking the results, calculating and controlling the costs of individual production steps, carrying out plan and deviation analyzes and profitability calculations and creating regular and ad hoc analyzes on specific issues.
- You create independently or participate in budget planning and forecasts and present them to management and supervisory bodies.
- You recognize savings and improvement potentials and work on their realization.
- You contribute to the calculation of investments and support management in investment and optimization decisions (e.g. ‘make or buy’).
How to become a production controller
- Successfully completed economics studies with a focus on controlling/accounting and/or production, studies in industrial engineering or business informatics or a comparable qualification
- Several years of professional experience in the field of production and cost accounting
- Safe handling of MS Office, especially Excel and PowerPoint, as well as experience with ERP systems
- Fluency in spoken and written English
What does a production controller earn?
up to €85,000
With 10 or more years of professional experience, depending on the size of the company, the salary can rise to over €100,000.
What do you expect from the production controller?
- affinity for numbers
- Logical and technical-analytical understanding
- Attention to detail without losing sight of the big picture
- presentation strength
- Structured, independent way of working
- Team player with strong communication skills
Opportunities for advancement as a production controller
Production controllers are analytical and logical people with a high level of technical understanding. Coupled with teamwork and communication skills, you can manage larger investments as a project controller and/or take on coordination and management tasks in the areas of production and finance.
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